Whether you’re organizing your desk drawers, filing cabinets, a stack of paper files, a closet, attic, or the garage, Paper Tiger Filing System software will help you get organized. You can have a system in place so you can maintain organization, and be able to live and work in a more productive environment.
You may be asking yourself, why do I want to add another ‘system’ to my chaos. Will this really help me get organized? Think about it this way. You are already wasting a lot of time searching for things, whether it be in your filing cabinet under a name you don’t remember what you filed it under, or maybe what you’re looking for is something that you’ve boxed up in the attic, but you don’t know which box?
You also may dread the thought of having to make decisions about what to throw away or what to keep. Remember the Pareto Principle, you know the 80/20 rule … we only use 20% of what we have, and the other 80% are back-ups, mistakes, things we hold on to because we don’t make good decisions about what to do with them. If you don’t try to figure out a system that will get you organized so you can find what you need when you need it, you may find that you’re only using 20% of what you can find!
Paper Tiger uses the power of the computer to organize documents stored in your file cabinets and enables users to actually find what they need, when they need it without time wasting searches. Instead of filing paper documents alphabetically, users file documents numerically. Instead of one “magic” word that you have to decide what to file a document under, you can assign as many keywords as you like!
Paper Tiger combined with a proven methodology, enables users to get organized and manage paper and other physical items more effectively.
Think of your file cabinet as a “paper warehouse” and the hanging files in your file cabinet as containers in the warehouse. When you want to file something, you simply find an empty container (file folder), or an existing container with other papers on the same subject, put the paper in it, type in a few keywords relating to the document being filed, and you’re done! It is that simple!
With Paper Tiger, a location is a “group of like items” such as “Action” and “Reference” – which are the first two locations we recommend that you set up when using Paper Tiger. For this reason, we have pre-printed tabs that can be ordered with Paper Tiger software. The pre-printed tabs are Action 1-60 and Reference 1-320 to get you started. In addition, there are several text labels for a Desktop File. Desktop Files are not a required component of Paper Tiger. They were developed as a way of customizing Paper Tiger for individual preferences. For many Paper Tiger users, that is all the labels they ever need.
How many locations should you have? With Paper Tiger there are no “shoulds!” As long as you put in a few keywords for each file, you will be able to find anything you need. However, the more locations you create, the more complicated you make the system and the longer it will take. So start simple! You can easily refine the system later on and you will probably discover it’s unnecessary work.
To explain, a four drawer file cabinet can be one location (Reference) or four locations (Clients, Financial, Administrative, Research). The natural inclination of most people is to make it four locations. The least labor-intensive system, however, would be to make the file cabinet one Location called “Reference”.
Start with two locations: Action and Reference. You can use the “Category” field to indicate whether the file contains client, financial, administration, or research info. Now you might be thinking: “Horror of horrors! All my files will be “mixed up.” Yes, they will be – but so what?
Think of doing a Google search for information. As long as the information shows up, do you care where it is? Think of Paper Tiger the same way.
Paper Tiger Action Files
If you have a paper file that requires action by you, it becomes an Action File. These are the types of files that you might be working on as a project that you want to keep close, maybe in your desk drawer. These are ‘temporary action’ files. When a project is complete, you can transfer this file to your Reference Location or toss if you don’t need to keep the documents for this project.
Organizing experts have worked one on one with hundreds of individuals, and have discovered that most people had single pieces of paper which required their action that they weren’t sure what to do with. When asked the question, “What is the next action you need to take on this piece of paper?” the most common answers were those that became “Desktop Files” such as “Call,” “Data Entry,” “Expense Reimbursement” or “Waiting on Response.” These are what we call ‘permanent action’ files because they are regular, repeating, frequent, and general, so not a project type action that will need a file folder of its own. Since these papers often move quickly and usually not needed after the action has completed, it is not recommended that you index them in Paper Tiger. For example:
Paper Tiger Reference Files
If you don’t know whether you need a paper file, but you just don’t want to throw it away, or you want it for future reference, it should become a Reference File.
For a four-drawer file cabinet in your office called “Reference”, the outside of the drawers might be labeled as follows:
Drawer 1: Reference 1-55
Drawer 2: Reference 56-95
Drawer 3: Reference 96-140
Drawer 4: Reference 141-195
Each Reference number represents an item that you’ve indexed into Paper Tiger with item name and keywords…maybe a category, notes, and an action date.
If you just cannot bear to have certain files mixed in with all the other Reference files, then create a Location for that type of file. For example, some people want to be sure that they have all their client files together. In this case, create a Location named “Clients”, then the item names might be the client or company name, and keywords could be their account number with you, their address, phone number and any other information in which you might search for them later or of which you want to keep track, such as the last time you spoke to them.
The next Location you will want to create is Archives. This Location is for those documents that you don’t need in your Reference Location, but need to keep for financial or legal reasons for a specific length of time. You can also use the Archives Location for when documents can be tossed, but you’re not willing to get rid of them just yet. You will want to create this “Archives” Location in Paper Tiger and decide the physical location to where you’ll move those files. This will be in a less accessible location, so you will want to give it a new Location. Your Archives location could be located in a storage room, garage, attic, or at a records retention storage company.
You might also think about when each item can be removed (tossed/shredded) and set an Action Date to that item when you transfer them to your Archive Location in Paper Tiger and physically. That way you will know when each file can be removed without going through the file. Creating a records retention policy for your home and/or office will help you to have a guideline of how long you should keep records in your specific situation so you don’t have to rethink this every time you clean out your files. We have articles under our blog category, “Retention Guidelines: How long should you keep records?” that you might find helpful.
Most records retention storage companies require that you place a label on the box you send to them indicating when the files therein should be destroyed. You can simply do the same thing with your Archived files wherever you store them.
Other Physical Items (not paper files)
For other physical items, (such as books, CDs, DVDs, boxes/containers, etc.), decide if the items need a location in Paper Tiger or if you can index keywords for the items in with other things. See other Location suggestions described on our Not Just For Filing Paper page. Basically, anything that you can put a number onto, can be indexed into Paper Tiger. For example, for CDs or DVDs, you can either place a numbered label that matches the item number in Paper Tiger, on the CD/DVD jacket or you can place the CD/DVD in a binder such as the one pictured below, index the name, author, and other pertinent information into the item’s keywords section in Paper Tiger. As you can see, the item number was written with permanent marker on the DVD and on the DVD binder slot. So the DVD numbered 45, would match what was indexed in Paper Tiger’s item number 45 for the DVD Location (DVD 45).
Other Locations might be for information only (unless you keep related papers in your Reference files), such as:
To create your custom Location labels or more Action or Reference labels, Paper Tiger makes it easy. In case you’re wondering, there is no limit to the number of locations you can have! Click here to see even more ways to use Paper Tiger to get organized.
Tags: Clutter, Declutter, document management software, filing system software, get organized, Organize, Organized, paper filing systems, Paper Tiger "finding" filing system, what to do with paper files